Zambian Traditional Names

The Meaning of Tumbuka, Chewa, Ngoni, Nsenga, and Tonga NamesZambian Names book cover

A study was conducted in the Eastern and Southern Provinces of Zambia to investigate the meaning of Zambian traditional names. A total of 323 respondents from a total of 26 villages were asked to describe baby-naming customs, identify traditional names and explain the meanings of the names, the circumstances of naming and whether the name is used to name females, males or both.

All the information has been compiled and published  into 142 page book that describes the naming customs of newly born babies and  an identification of  names from the Tumbuka, Chewa, Ngoni, Nsenga people of Eastern Zambia and the Tonga of Southern Zambia. There were a total of 571 traditional names from Eastern Zambia and 312 traditional Tonga names from Southern Zambia. The study was conducted from 1980 to 2000. One research field trip was made to Choma and the Gwembe Valley in 1988 and three trips to Eastern Zambia between 1980 and 1985. This was the time the author was working at  the Institute of African Studies of the University of Zambia. During the 1993 field trip to Eastern Zambia the author was working at Bridgewater College.

The book identifies ten most popular names from the surveys from the Eastern Province and the Tonga from Southern Province. For those who have pets, the appendix has a 2-page compilation of dog names and their meanings from Eastern Zambia. Ideally, the author would like the book to be made available at all maternity wards in hospitals in Zambia so that potential parents can use the book to choose baby names.

You can buy the book from Book World Book store and at the Lusaka International Airport Book Store in Lusaka in the Capital City of Zambia. The book is also available in Lusaka at Cell Phone 095-576-1375. You can browse the book on Google.